In depth: Newsletters

University Archives are required by law to save the “boring” things about a University’s history: budgets, course catalogs, reporting statistics. Everything else that is preserved is done so at the Archivist’s discretion based on space constraints in the archives and how much information can be gleaned from whatever material we keep.

However, that discretionary component to the Archives’ work allows us to also save some really interesting historical materials that bridge the gap between institutional business history and the cultural history of the institution. One type of material is the newsletter. UHD has had many, many newsletters printed over the years. The most recent format of that is probably the Skyline, which is online but is effectively a newsletter at its core, coming out regularly and posting the happenings of the University generally.

In the past, before we had things like websites, the newsletters were created on typewriters or word processors and then copied and distributed. One of the first newsletters at UHD was The Claw, an all-faculty newsletter that began in the early 1970s when we were still the South Texas Junior College (our mascot then was the Seahawk and the student newspaper was The Talon, so you can see the joke). It had business items, as well as personal information about who was going on sabbatical or who had just published a paper. It even had ads — one intrepid member of the faculty sold their curtains through The Claw.

The division of social sciences had their own newsletter after The Claw ended, called “Notes from Many and Divers Sources for the Illumination of Our Times” (which was later shortened to “notes from many and divers sources” probably for brevity’s sake). It was mostly official information distributed so that the faculty could have less meetings, but also included things like “if you have borrowed Conney Sham’s per diem worksheet, please return it” (from the March 8, 1978 newsletter).

The President’s Office, soon after UHD was established, also started a newsletter, called Notes. Notes ran for more than 15 years, and really comprises (along with the student newspapers) some of the best sources for historical information on campus. It’s the first place to go when we need a specific date or to know when an activity or speaker’s series or major began.

Newsletters really tell the whole story of the University, if one is willing to take the time to delve into them.